REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

CAST

Chris Evans (The Losers)
Robert Downey, Jr (Sherlock Holmes)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Sebastian Stan (The Covenant)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House)
Paul Rudd (Role Models)
Emily VanCamp (Revenge)
Tom Holland (The Impossible)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Marisa Tomei (The Fighter)
John Kani (Coriolanus)
Hope Davis (About Schmidt)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Julianna Guill (The Resident)
Florence Kasumba (Wonder Woman)

Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: Civil War (2016)In 1991, the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up, hoping to kill Rogers. When Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.
Chris Evans in Captain America: Civil War (2016)U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the team. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because of his role in Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s devastation, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers intends to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from T’Challa and the authorities, but all four including T’Challa are apprehended.
Chris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie, and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: Civil War (2016)Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed “Winter Soldiers” are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’ permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff goes into exile.
Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and convinces Wilson to give him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware they were secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, dismembering Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.
Chris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: Civil War (2016)In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, Barnes, granted asylum in Wakanda, chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget.
Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Bettany, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: Civil War (2016)One of the best Marvel film to date: great, charisma from the leads delivered through fantastic action that’s actually driven, for once, by a tight, believable and interesting storyline.

REVIEW: BALLS OF FURY

CAST
Dan Fogler (Hannibal)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
George Lopez (Spare Parts)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Terry Crews (Serving Sara)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Jason Scott Lee (Soldier)
Patton Oswalt (Two and A Half men)
Mather Zickel (Bones)
Masi Oka (Heroes)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Toby Huss (Dickinson)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Kerri Kenney (Superstore)
Jim Rash (Sky High)

Eleven year old Randy Daytona becomes anxious when he learns that his father Peter has bet on his performance in the 1988 Summer Olympics table tennis finals. During his first game between his opponent Karl Wolfschtagg from the German Democratic Republic, Daytona has an accident and suffers an injury. Unable to continue, he loses the match. Loan sharks in the employ of criminal mastermind Feng murder his father, and Daytona leaves competitive ping-pong. Nineteen years later, Daytona is dismissed from the Peppermill casino and meets FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez, who requests his assistance in arresting Feng for running guns. Feng’s hidden jungle hideout hosts a black-market Ping-Pong tournament, and Daytona’s invitation is a way for the FBI to infiltrate Feng’s organization. When Daytona agrees, Rodriguez tells him to win enough championships that Feng’s scouts notice him. After losing a local tournament, Daytona is apprenticed to a blind man in Chinatown named Wong, who was Feng’s former mentor. Daytona also meets Wong’s niece, Maggie. When locals vandalize Master Wong’s house for violating their edict against teaching white people ping pong, Daytona is forced to play against “The Dragon”, a young girl, in exchange for Wong’s right to stay. After Daytona beats the Dragon, Feng’s men take notice of his win and bring Daytona, Rodriguez, and Wong to Feng’s facility.

Daytona handily beats his first opponent, Freddy “Fingers” Wilson, though he is unnerved to learn that the tournament is literally sudden death—the loser is killed by a poisoned dart delivered by Feng’s majordomo, Mahogany. After Daytona attempts unsuccessfully to escape, Feng invites him to join his side and reveals that he only finished half of Wong’s training. He says it would be the ultimate satisfaction to win Daytona away from Wong. Feng also shows Daytona his specially modified ping-pong table. It is wired to special vests that give increasingly powerful and fatal electrical shocks for failure. Daytona informs Rodriguez of a hidden cache of illegal guns that are sufficient to put Feng in jail. While Rodriguez investigates the hidden facilities, Daytona defeats numerous opponents for his life.
Upon learning that Wolfschtagg is his last opponent, Daytona requests extraction. Rodriguez comes up with a plan to brutally injure Daytona, so that he has to quit. Rodriguez breaks Daytona’s arm before Daytona can tell him that he has changed his mind. Feng discovers Rodriguez’s attempts to contact the FBI and forces Daytona to face Wolfschtagg, then substitutes Maggie. When Wolfstagg protests, Feng kills him. Daytona plays one-handed and tries to stall for time. Maggie tries to lose on purpose to sacrifice herself. However, Daytona uses his ping-pong expertise to hit Maggie with the ball. While this goes on, they escape together. Enraged, Feng orders them both executed. Mahogany shoots a poisonous dart at Daytona, but Maggie defends him with the ping-pong paddle. Daytona then throws the poisoned paddle back at Mahogany, killing her. The FBI swarms the place, during which the heroes attempt to escape, but Daytona’s attempts to rescue Feng’s sex slaves causes their capture. Feng plays Daytona to determine which of Wong’s students is the superior ping pong player.
During the game, the facility’s self-destruct sequence is activated, and Feng reveals there is no off-switch. He also states that he changed the rules so that the ball can now be bounced off any surface once and still be in play. As the self-destruct sequence countdown progresses, the game moves through several buildings and finally onto a bridge over a nearby river. After Wong informs Daytona that Feng has a weak backhand, Daytona exploits his weakness, and Feng is electrocuted, falling into the river. Daytona and his friends, along with Feng’s slaves, escape in Wong’s boat. Two months later, the major characters are reunited for the reopening of Master Wong’s rebuilt Mushu shop.
The plot is predictable enough but with a very well written script and plenty enough twists and parodying of the martial arts genre to make it worth a second watch.

REVIEW: SKY HIGH

CAST
Kurst Russell (Death Proof)
Danielle Panabaker (The Flash)
Michael Angarano (Almost Famous)
Kelly Preston (Twins)
Nicholas Braun (Red State)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3)
Lynda Carter (Wonder woman)
Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead)
Cloris Leachman (Scary Movie 4)
Jim Rash (Community)
Kevin McDonald (Galaxy Quest)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad)
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Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is beginning ninth grade at Sky High, a high school that teaches super powered children. Will’s parents are The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), the world’s most famous superheroes. Will’s best friend is Layla (Danielle Panabaker), who has the power to manipulate plant life.
Will is anxious about attending Sky High, located on a floating campus reached by flying school bus, because, unbeknownst to his parents, he has not developed any super powers. The first day he and the other grade nines are harassed by a trio of bullies: the super fast Speed (Will Harris), Lash (Jake Sandvig) who can extend his body, and cheerleader Penny (Khadijah Haqq and Malika Haqq) who can create duplicates of herself. Because of his lack of powers, Will is slated to enter a curriculum for “Hero Support” and become a sidekick. His classmates include Ethan (Dee Jay Daniels) who can melt into a fluid, Zach (Nicholas Braun) who glows in the dark, Magenta (Kelly Vitz) who becomes a guinea pig, and Layla who joins the class in protest against the two track nature of the school’s education. The class is taught by The Commander’s former sidekick “All American Boy” (Dave Foley).
The Commander, unaware that his son has been relegated to Hero Support, shows Will his hidden trophy room. He is particularly proud of the mysterious weapon “The Pacifier” which he took from his science themed nemesis Royal Pain years ago. Unknown to either of them, Royal Pain, who had been presumed dead, watches the exchange from a hidden camera in one of the other trophies. As Will settles in to Sky High and makes friends with the other sidekicks he comes into conflict with fire wielding student Warren Peace (Steven Strait), whose supervillain father had been imprisoned by The Commander. During a fight between the two, Will demonstrates super strength, impressing Gwen Grayson (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a beautiful and popular “technopath” who controls machines with her mind. Will begins spending more time with Gwen and her popular friends, ignoring the sidekicks and Layla, who reveals to Warren that she has loved Will for a long time.
On the day before the dance, Gwen tricks Will into throwing a party at his house, and she uses Speed to steal the Pacifier when she seduces Will into showing her the Secret Sanctum. After Gwen lies to Layla, who shows up to investigate the noise and believes the lie, Will breaks up with Gwen refusing to attend the dance even though his parents are going as honored guests. Later, he looks through his father’s old yearbooks and sees a student who resembles Gwen. Believing that the student is Royal Pain and that Gwen is her daughter he rushes to the dance.
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At the dance party, Gwen reveals that she is in fact Royal Pain. During her previous confrontation with the Commander, the Pacifier, which is meant to turn its target into an infant, had malfunctioned, turning her into a baby instead thus faking her suspected death. She has since waited sixteen years for revenge. With the help of Speed, Lash, and Penny, she takes over the school and uses the Pacifier to turn the faculty and students into infants. When Will arrives at school, he apologizes to Layla and teams up with Warren and the sidekicks to try to save the day. The sidekicks demonstrate their heroism after Royal Pain sabotages the school’s anti-gravity drive and their powers come in handy restarting it. Will, meanwhile, discovers that he also has his mother’s powers of flight when he is thrown off the edge of the school grounds and must prevent the campus from falling. Gwen and her henchmen are defeated and arrested and the faculty and students are returned to their proper ages. Will and Layla kiss, and a voiceover at the end reveals that they become a couple, he and Warren became best friends, and Ron Wilson gained superhuman powers after falling into a vat of toxic waste, and became a superhero.
This is a film that everyone should enjoy. Kids will love the exciting story and spectacular special effects, and there is plenty of humor that will appeal to adults.

REVIEW: ONE HOUR PHOTO

CAST

Robin Williams (Hook)
Connie Nielsen (Gladiator)
Michael Vartan (Alias)
Dylan Smith (Re-Animated)
Erin Daniels (The L Word)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Lee Garlington (Ameircan Pie 2)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Clark Gregg (Agents of SHIELD)
Eriq La Salle (ER)

Robin Williams in One Hour Photo (2002)

Mark Romanek’s under-appreciated One Hour Photo came about during a transition period in the mainstream photography scene, a point addressed early on in the film. Before the age of digital cameras — where people take thousands of shots nobody ever sees, duplicate them at home, and wipe them away with a few clicks — snapshots either needed to be processed in a dark room or entrusted with a lab for developing. That meant a person doing the developing would see , and possible remember, every single candid shot and glimpse at one’s private affairs. Romanek saw that suspicion as an opportunity, framed in a sterile department store and centered on the seeming trustworthy clerk whom you’d give those rolls of memories. Could that person have been Sy Parrish (Robin Williams), the bespectacled, clean-cut employee who obsesses over a repeat-customer family. The strength in Romanek’s thriller, a comment on blind trust and valuing the family dynamic, lies in how eerily possible that might be.

Should it be reassuring or alarming that the first image of Sy is of his in-custody interrogation? That’s the direction Romanek takes the audience, down the path of misgiving from the moment Sy offers his perspective on his time as a SavMart photo-lab manager, a job he takes very seriously; he calibrates and measures prints with the utmost care, diligently remembering repeat shoppers. The most important of all his customers, though, is the Yorkin family: an unpretentiously beautiful mother, Nina (Connie Nielsen, The Devil’s Advocate); the busy bread-winner father, Will (Michael Vartan, Alias); and their young, caring son, Jake (Dylan Smith). Sy knows these people in ways most don’t, from memorizing their address and the size of their home to the idyllic appearance of their domestic situation, adorned with birthday parties and little-league games. What’s also shown, though, are the moments when he returns to his home, a sparse apartment full of the Yorkin’s photographs.

Romanek could’ve easily forced Sy into a caricature of a stalker or an unashamedly disturbed villain, but instead he takes a more complex route: he’s interested in bringing this man as close to “normal” as the thriller’s setting and purposes will allow, until the situation no longer allows it. Constant narration — Sy’s interrogation — beckons the audience into the space of his mind, revealing his tolerant and often rewarding outlook on his customers. When he discusses unsavory people, they’re neutral observations with a twang of judgment, not unlike the musings of regular Joes. When he discusses the family dynamic, his outlook is almost admirably idealistic, as if he only knows of the families depicted in perfect photos. Navigating the intricacy of his mind becomes a sharp, disturbing experience as the knowledge of his police custody crosses our minds, and Romanek plays with that idea as Sy uses his job to cross boundaries in ways the general public would rather not consider. He’s the worst kind of monster: the one you really couldn’t foresee as being one.

One Hour Photo’s success, both in terms of intensity and dramatic potency, hinges on the utterly chilling performance from Robin Williams. While Good Will Hunting and Insomnia unveiled a comeback in his serious dramatic side, presenting him as physically intimidating and apt at carrying a dark past, Sy takes his talent in a more cunning, sinister direction than previously seen from the animated comedic actor. From behind large-framed glasses and under a peculiar blonde haircut, the intense eyes that Williams gives the photo-lab manager hide a disturbed man with a void in his life. The psychosis and obsession he conveys through nuanced facial reactions can be pretty remarkable, where the stillness in his gazes and the calmness in his voice often send chills down the spine when he interacts with families, co-workers, and children. The performances around him create a “safe” mid-sized town atmosphere — Connie Nielsen’s honest warmth lures in our attention as she drops off film and eats at a mall — proving ideal for Sy’s under-the-radar fixation.

Romanek explores a mesmerizing visual tone that becomes crucial as we’re making heads and tails of Sy’s mind, where the cinematography of Jeff Cronenweth (Fight Club and The Social Network) switches between sterile, void sparseness and multihued vivacity for some clever jarring effects. He bathes scenes in the Yorkin’s lush upper-scale home with overbearingly warm oranges and browns, emphasizing a false sense of safety and perfection, while the stark-white aisles of SavMart almost convey a sense of blinding clarity through the eyes of Sy. The film very much filters through his point-of-view as his narration guides the audience within his psychosis, where the few impartial glimpses at his life blow the notion of privacy open by a mosaic of photos on his apartment’s wall. Backed by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek’s pulsating, haunting score, this is a striking sensory experience that lulls the audience into a bizarre combo of sensations between ill-omened fear and cautious sympathy.

That’s the nature of a beast like One Hour Photo, a Hitchcock-esque exploration of the underbelly of the mundane ad the family dynamic, not unlike a twisted combination of Cape Fear and American Beauty. Romanek’s film is, admittedly, far more interesting during Sy’s descent into mania than when he’s finally pushed over the edge though, driven by circumstances that come across more as overstated developments to elevate suspense instead of a natural progression of his mental instability. Romanek undeniably goes for bizarre shock value as his punctuation, which waters down the organic human properties that he’s worked so hard to develop. Yet, even when he takes Sy into the world of the truly demented, the reason he’s locked in cuffs and answering questions, Robin Williams and Mark Romanek still generates a disturbingly authentic perspective on idealistic relativism, and how the mind of “The Photo Guy” who yearns for the family in those snapshots is truly calibrated.

REVIEW: MINORITY REPORT

 

CAST

Tom Cruise (Knight and Day)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Colin Farrell (The Lobster)
Samantha Morton (John Carter)
Steve Harris (The Rock)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Patrick Kilpatrick (Under Siege 2)
Jessica Capshaw (Valentine)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four)
Ashley Crow (Heroes)
Joel Gretsch (V)
Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street)
Daniel London (Gotham)
William Mapother (Powers)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Cameron Diaz (Sex Tape)
Kirk B.R. Woller (Hulk)
Victor Raider-Wexler (Dr. Dolittle 2)
Bonnie Morgan (Rings)
Anne Judson-Yager (Bring It On Again)
Meredith Monroe (13 Reasons Why)
Sumalee Montano (Justice League vs The Fatal Five)

MV5BMTkwNjM2MzI3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzIyOTAzMw@@._V1_It is the year 2054 and a team of 3 “pre cogs” (psychics) are sedated and sitting in a pool in Washington, DC. They see crimes before they happen, allowing the police force to see the images that they see and work to solve the crime from what images they are given. One of the heads of the pre-crime force is Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), a man who has understandably never recovered from the loss of his son a few years back. It doesn’t take particularly long for the film’s main plot to kick in: the pre-cogs, thought to be never wrong, send down another report of a possible crime: unfortunately, the criminal in the vision looks to be Anderton himself, with the victim a man that he’s never met. Much of the remainder of the nearly 150 minute picture involves Anderton going on the run to find out if either the pre-cogs are wrong or if someone’s somehow set him up.Spielberg’s visualization of the future is something incredible to behold and actually, far more enjoyable to be plunked down in than what’s presented usually in these kinds of films. The houses in this 2054 often look the same as they do now – however, most of the changes in technology – billboards that scan one’s eye to personally sell to them, highways that look like awfully smooth sailing in electronic cars – seem like possibilities.The film’s visual effects are truly phenomenal, capturing things like the highways with seemingly hundreds of electric cars quite convincingly. Even smaller effects seemed seamless and crisply rendered. The effects are also used appropriately; this is not a film where effects come first and story second.The performances are generally excellent. Cruise has always been a pretty good actor, Farrell (as a Government agent checking up on the pre-crime system), Max von Sydow (as head of the department) and others also offer fine support. The film’s screenplay (by Jon Cohen and Scott Frank) is also superb, with several thought-provoking twists and turns.